How Much Are You Spending On Thanksgiving Dinner


How much are you spend­ing on Thanks­giv­ing din­ner?  And how does that com­pare with the national average?


Clas­sic Thanks­giv­ing Din­ner Cost­ing More in 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C., Novem­ber 10, 2011 – The retail cost of menu items for a clas­sic Thanks­giv­ing din­ner includ­ing turkey, stuff­ing, cran­ber­ries, pump­kin pie and all the basic trim­mings increased about 13 per­cent this year, accord­ing to the Amer­i­can Farm Bureau Federation.

Click on the image for a high res­o­lu­tion PDF version.
 Newsline Audio: Cost of Thanks­giv­ing Dinner
Focus Col­umn: Thanks­giv­ing is All About Traditions
Sweet Potato and Green Pea Salad Recipe
State Releases:

AFBF’s 26th annual infor­mal price sur­vey of clas­sic items found on the Thanks­giv­ing Day din­ner table indi­cates the aver­age cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.20, a $5.73 price increase from last year’s aver­age of $43.47.

The cost of this year’s meal remains a bar­gain, at just under $5 per per­son,” said AFBF Pres­i­dent Bob Stall­man, a rice and cat­tle pro­ducer from Texas. “The qual­ity and vari­ety of food pro­duced for our din­ner tables on America’s diverse farms and ranches sets us apart from our con­tem­po­raries around the world.  It is an honor for our farm and ranch fam­i­lies to pro­duce the food from our nation’s land for fam­ily Thanks­giv­ing celebrations.”

The AFBF sur­vey shop­ping list includes turkey, bread stuff­ing, sweet pota­toes, rolls with but­ter, peas, cran­ber­ries, a rel­ish tray of car­rots and cel­ery, pump­kin pie with whipped cream, and bev­er­ages of cof­fee and milk, all in quan­ti­ties suf­fi­cient to serve a fam­ily of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.

The big ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – came in at $21.57 this year. That was roughly $1.35 per pound, an increase of about 25 cents per pound, or a total of $3.91 per whole turkey, com­pared to 2010.  The whole bird was the biggest con­trib­u­tor to the final total, show­ing the largest price increase com­pared to last year.

Turkey prices are higher this year pri­mar­ily due to strong con­sumer demand both here in the U.S. and glob­ally,” said John Ander­son, an AFBF senior economist.

In addi­tion, “the era of gro­cers hold­ing the line on retail food cost increases is basi­cally over,” Ander­son explained. “Retail­ers are being more aggres­sive about pass­ing on higher costs for ship­ping, pro­cess­ing and stor­ing food to con­sumers, although turkeys may still be fea­tured in spe­cial sales and pro­mo­tions close to Thanksgiving.

Yearly Aver­ages
1986 – $28.74
1987 – $24.51
1988 – $26.61
1989 – $24.70
1990 – $28.85
1991 – $25.95
1992 – $26.39
1993 – $27.49
1994 – $28.40
1995 – $29.64
1996 – $31.66
1997 – $31.75
1998 – $33.09
1999 – $33.83
2000 – $32.37
2001 – $35.04
2002 – $34.56
2003 – $36.28
2004 – $35.68
2005 – $36.78
2006 – $38.10
2007 – $42.26
2008 – $44.61
2009 – $42.91
2010 – $43.47
2011 – $49.20

Although we’ll pay a bit more this year, on a per-person basis, our tra­di­tional Thanks­giv­ing feast remains a bet­ter value than most fast-food value meals, plus it’s a whole­some, home-cooked meal,” Ander­son said.

A gal­lon of whole milk increased in price by 42 cents per gal­lon, to $3.66. Other items that showed a price increase from last year were: a 30-ounce can of pump­kin pie mix, $3.03, up 41 cents; two nine-inch pie shells, $2.52, up 6 cents; a ½ pint of whip­ping cream, $1.96, up 26 cents; one pound of green peas, $1.68, up 24 cents; a 14-ounce pack­age of cubed bread stuff­ing, $2.88, up 24 cents; a dozen brown-n-serve rolls, $2.30, up 18 cents; three pounds of sweet pota­toes, $3.26, up 7 cents; and fresh cran­ber­ries, $2.48, up 7 cents.

A one-pound rel­ish tray of car­rots and cel­ery declined by a penny to 76 cents, while a com­bined group of mis­cel­la­neous items, includ­ing cof­fee and ingre­di­ents nec­es­sary to pre­pare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evap­o­rated milk and but­ter) decreased in price, to $3.10.

Demand for U.S. dairy prod­ucts has been strong through­out the year and con­tin­ues to influ­ence retail prices, as demand for higher-quality food prod­ucts grows glob­ally,” Ander­son said.

He noted that despite retail price increases dur­ing the last year or so, Amer­i­can con­sumers have enjoyed rel­a­tively sta­ble food costs over the years, par­tic­u­larly when adjusted for inflation.

The 13 per­cent increase in the national aver­age cost reported this year by Farm Bureau for a clas­sic Thanks­giv­ing din­ner is some­what higher but still tracks closely with the organization’s 2011 quar­terly mar­ket­bas­ket food sur­veys and the fed­eral government’s Con­sumer Price Index for food (avail­able online at http://data.bls.gov/) .

Farm Bureau vol­un­teer shop­pers are asked to look for the best pos­si­ble prices, with­out tak­ing advan­tage of spe­cial pro­mo­tional coupons or pur­chase deals, such as spend­ing $50 and receiv­ing a free turkey. Shop­pers with an eye for bar­gains in all areas of the coun­try should be able to pur­chase indi­vid­ual menu items at prices com­pa­ra­ble to the Farm Bureau sur­vey aver­ages. Another option for busy fam­i­lies with­out a lot of time to cook is ready-to-eat Thanks­giv­ing meals for up to 10 peo­ple, with all the trim­mings, which are avail­able at many super­mar­kets and take-out restau­rants for around $50 to $75.

The AFBF sur­vey was first con­ducted in 1986. While Farm Bureau does not make any sci­en­tific claims about the data, it is an infor­mal gauge of price trends around the nation.

A total of 141 vol­un­teer shop­pers from 35 states par­tic­i­pated in this year’s sur­vey. Farm Bureau’s sur­vey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for con­sis­tent price comparisons.

Please note:  Included are tables with his­tor­i­cal infor­ma­tion about AFBF’s Thanks­giv­ing Din­ner survey.

Item 2010 Price 2011 Price Dif­fer­ence
16-pound turkey 17.66 21.57 +3.91
Milk, 1 gal­lon whole 3.24 3.66 +.42
Pump­kin pie mix, 30-oz. 2.62 3.03 +.41
Whip­ping cream, ½ pint 1.70 1.96 +.26
Cubed stuff­ing, 14 oz. 2.64 2.88 +.24
Green peas, 1 lb. 1.44 1.68 +.24
Rolls, 12 2.12 2.30 +.18
Sweet pota­toes, 3 lbs. 3.19 3.26 +.07
Fresh cran­ber­ries, 12 oz. 2.41 2.48 +.07
Pie shells (2) 2.46 2.52 +.06
Misc. ingre­di­ents 3.22 3.10 -.12
1-pound rel­ish tray  (car­rots and celery) .77 .76 -.01
TOTAL 43.47 49.20 +5.73



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